GRAND RAPIDS. Mich. (WOOD) — While the jury in the governor kidnapping conspiracy trial has deliberated in a room in downtown Grand Rapids for four days, the nearby federal courtroom has been mostly empty, except for relatives of the suspects.
Families of Daniel Harris, Brandon Caserta and Adam Fox have sat on the wooden benches on the “defense” side of the sixth-floor courtroom of Chief U.S. District Court Judge Robert J. Jonker, some working on word puzzles, all waiting for any word, brought together by the alleged deeds of their sons or brothers.
Barry Croft Jr., who is from Delaware, is the only suspect without family here.
Harris’s father Rob has been in court every day for the trial, which took more than three weeks, and for every minute of jury deliberations.
“I’ll tell you the first day (of jury deliberations) was the worst,” Rob Harris, of Lake Orion, said. “Absolutely the worst. Don’t know what to expect. The day seemed to last forever.”
Harris and the other families say they are hoping the long deliberations could show the jury is having some doubt and could lead to not guilty verdicts.
“Everyone I talk to says the longer it goes, the better it statistically is for you and your side, so we have some hope in that,” Harris said.
The jury broke for the day Thursday, its fourth full day of deliberations, without reaching a verdict. It will go back to work Friday morning.
The four defendants are facing charges of conspiracy to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, allegedly angry over her response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The FBI said it broke up the plot on Oct. 7, 2020, a year and a half ago on Thursday.
All but Caserta are facing other charges, including conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction. Harris, 24, faces the most charges: four.
Harris, a former Marine, testified he joined the Wolverine Watchmen militia group in spring 2020 to keep up his military training.
“He loved shooting guns and things like that, and he loved the camaraderie of the military and he missed it,” his father said.
His father was in court as his son took the stand.
“I was excited. He’s a confident young man,” Rob Harris said.
He was there as his son used an expletive when the federal prosecutor asked about the key FBI informant, Big Dan Chappel.
“I understand why he said it, in his mind, according to his testimony, he (Big Dan) was afraid of talk. Talk is not illegal,” Rob Harris said.
He said his son was using “sarcasm” when he talked about shooting the governor in the head.
He said his son was not trying to kidnap the governor.
“No, he thought those guys were idiots,” he said.